The 365 versions of Office 2016 for Mac launched on 9 July 2015, but Mac users wanting to buy a copy outright, rather than subscribe, had to wait for Microsoft to launch the boxed version. Finally, on 22 September, those Mac users got their wish and Office 2016 for Mac became available for £119.99 upfront.

In this feature we discuss what you can expect from the new software including the UK pricing, whether you decide to subscribe to Office 365, or buy a copy outright.

Earlier this year (on 5 March) Micosoft released beta previews of the new Office for Mac apps so we were able to bring you information about the features you could expect to see in the new Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook in Office for Mac 2016 even before the 365 versions launched. This article did explain how to download the Office for Mac preview. Unfortunately you can no longer download the Mac preview of Office for Mac 2016.

Read our preview articles that evaluate the preview versions of the main Office for Mac 2016 software products:

Excel for Mac 2016 preview | Top tips for Excel

PowerPoint for Mac 2016 preview | PowerPoint 2016 tips

Outlook for Mac 2016 preview

Word for Mac 2016 preview | Word 2016 tips

Microsoft Office for Mac 2016 release date

The new Office for Mac 2016 update to Microsoft's office software suite was launched on 9 July 2015, however it was for Office 365 subscribers only.

Then on 22 September Microsoft launched Office Home & Student 2016 and Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac as 'boxed copies'. This means you can now purchase your own copy of Office for Mac 2016 – with no need to subscribe to Office 365.

Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac costs £119.99 and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. While the Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac costs £229.99, and includes Outlook as well as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Office 2016 for Mac requires Mac OS X 10.10 and 4GB RAM.

If you buy a copy outright, you will only be able to install the copy on one Mac and it comes with 15GB of OneDrive cloud storage. Subscribers, on the other hand, get more OneDrive storage, Outlook, and depending on the subscription package, can install the software on multiple Macs, iPhones and iPads.

How does Office Home & Student 2016 one-time purchase compare to the subscription model?

Office 365 Home

Subscribe for £79.99 a year

Subscribe for £7.99 a month

Includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote PLUS: Outlook, Publisher, and Access

Install on: 5 PCs or Macs, 5 tablets and 5 phones

OneDrive storage: 1TB per user

Skype: 60 minutes per month for 5 users

See now on the Microsoft Store | See now on Amazon

Office 365 Personal

Subscribe for £59.99 a year

Subscribe for £5.99 a month

Includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote PLUS: Outlook, Publisher, and Access

Install on: 1 PC or Mac, 1 tablet and 1 phone

OneDrive storage: 1TB

Skype: 60 minutes per month

See now on the Microsoft Store | See now on Amazon

Office 365 University

Subscribe for £59.99 for 4 years

Includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote PLUS: Outlook, Publisher, and Access

Install on: 2 PCs or Macs or tablets, 2 phones

OneDrive storage: 1TB

Skype: 60 minutes per month

See now on the Microsoft Store | See now on Amazon

Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac

Pay £119.99

Includes: Includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote

Install on: 1 Mac

OneDrive storage: 15GB

Skype: n/a

See now on the Microsoft Store | See now on Amazon

Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac

Pay £229.99

Includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook

Install on: 1 Mac

OneDrive storage: 15GB

Skype: n/a

See now on the Microsoft Store | See now on Amazon

Will my Mac run the Office for Mac 2016

Office 2016 for Mac requires Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite and 4GB RAM.

The following Macs should therefore be able to run Office 2016 for Mac.

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

Are there versions of Office 2016 for iPad & iPhone?

Apple has launched iOS versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, read about the versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook for iPad and Phone here.

How much will Microsoft Office 2016 cost?

Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac costs £119.99 and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac costs £229.99, and includes Outlook as well as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

The prices are £10 higher than the previous version of Office for Mac, which itself saw a price hike back in February 2014 when Microsoft raised prices of Office for the Mac by as much as 22% and stopped selling multi-license packages of the application suite. On the UK Microsoft Store Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 (including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook) retailed for £219.99 while Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 (including Word, PowerPoint and Excel)  retailed at £109.99.

Previous to that price change you could pick up one Home and Business activation of the Business Edition for £189, or £239.99 for two activations.

Home and Student was previously available for just £89.99, or £109.99 for three activations.

These versions are only available for one Mac. To install on more than one Mac Microsoft appears to be pushing users towards the 365 subscription model where they used to offer bundles, for example, previously a two-license bundle of Home & Business would have set you back £439.98.

How much does an Office 365 subscription cost

For business users, an Office 365 subscription is available in a number of different packages. Small Business can sign up for £3.30 a month (£39.60 a year) but they won't gain the desktop versions of the apps. The Small Business Premium package costs £8.40 a month (£100.80 a year, 25 users, including desktop versions). Midsize Business can sign up for £9.80 a month (300 users, including desktop versions and Active Directory). There are also enterprise offerings for £2.60, £5.20 and £15 a month.

Home users can sign up for Office 365 Home subscription at £7.99 per month or £79.99 a year and get access to the features, including being able to create and edit documents, as well as desktop versions of the Office apps Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. The software can be installed on five Macs (or PCs), five tablets and five phones. 

There is also an Office 365 Personal subscription option that costs £59.99 a year or £5.99 a month. This includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access, but the software can only be installed on one Mac, one tablet and one iPhone.

Students can get Office 365 University for £59.99 for four years to install on two Macs, PCS, or tablets and two phones. If your school subscribes to the service you may be able to get a copy for free. In the US those in education have been able to get Office 365 for free since 2013, but Microsoft has now extended this beyond the States. You can find out if you are eligible by adding your school email address here. Students get access to the Office suite of products, as well as 1TB of OneDrive storage and access to Office Online via a browser.

Microsoft Office for Mac 2016 new features

The updated Office software products feature a number of new features, including a greater focus on co-authoring and other collaborative features, and stronger unity across multiple platforms. In theory an Office user from PC should be able to jump on a similarly equipped Mac and start working straight away, given how closely aligned the two interfaces have been designed.

Of course, we know most of the product details already, having tried out the previews extensively since March (more on the previews below and in the individual preview articles above), but the company pointed out that it has made numerous tweaks to the preview versions based on the thousands of pieces of feedback it has received from the trial programme: "Since the start of the preview in March, we released 7 updates and improved the performance and stability of the applications, and added features like improved Mail Merge in Word, Propose New Time in Outlook, and support for External Data Connections in Excel."

"The new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote provide the best of both worlds for Mac users - the familiar Office experience paired with the best of Mac," said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office Client Applications and Services team.

"If you already use Office on a PC or iPad, you will find yourself right at home in Office 2016 for Mac. It works the way you expect, with the familiar ribbon interface and powerful task panes. Mac users will appreciate the modernized Office experience and the integration of Mac capabilities like Full Screen view and Multi-Touch gestures. With full Retina display support, your Office documents look sharper and more vibrant than ever.

"Office for Mac is cloud-connected, so you can quickly get to the documents you've recently used on other devices and pick up where you left off. New, built-in document sharing tools make it easy to invite teammates to work on a document together. When sharing documents, you won't have to worry about losing content or formatting, as Office for Mac offers unparalleled compatibility with Office on PCs, tablets, phones and online."

The preview versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Word are still available for all to download and try, and will remain available for another month, expiring on 9 August. Here's how to download the Office 2016 for Mac previews.

How can I get the Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac preview?

As explained above, the Office for Mac 2016 preview is no longer available to download.

How can I uninstall the Office 2016 for Mac preview?

If you installed the new Office for Mac 2016 and decided that it's not for you, you can remove it from your Mac. Follow these instructions:

  • Open a Finder window
  • Select the Applications folder
  • Navigate to the Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or OneNote app that you want to delete
  • Drag the relevant app to your trash
  • Empty the trash by right clicking (ctrl-click) on the trash icon

Why did Microsoft release a preview of Office for Mac 2016

Microsoft used the preview to gathering data about improvements that can be made to the final version. For example there was a new ‘Help improve Office’ button in the Preview that you can use to sent feedback.

To report a bug or comment on a feature users could select the smiley face in the upper right corner of the application.

A Microsoft rep told our collegues at that the aim of this feature was to help eliminate a public perception that such feedback is ignored, by proactively responding to reported issues.

This feature isn’t available in the final version of the suite, though.

Read: Why you should send feedback to Apple

Microsoft Office 2016 interface

Every Office 2016 application gets a Yosemite look and feel and apps are optimized to work with the Retina display. Office will also offer the Yosemite full-screen mode. There is even scroll bounce.

The only Yosemite features you won’t get are auto-save or renaming, moving, tagging, or locking documents using the document title bar.

You will be able to use OneNote to autosave and synchronization documents, however.

Microsoft says that the new apps are designed to give users a similar experience on all devices, so if you are using the Office apps on Windows, Mac, iOS or the web (or Android) you will use them in the same way.

So that this unified interface is possible, Microsoft has updated the Ribbon – its toolbar that runs across the each document so that it is similar to the Office for Windows 2013 version. Microsoft says that the redesigned ribbon “intuitively organizes features so you can quickly find what you need quickly”.

If you are working on a smaller screen you are now able to hide the Ribbon, which increases the screen space available for editing your document or spreadsheet.

There is also a refreshed task pane interface, which Microsoft claims: “Makes positioning, resizing, or rotating graphics easy so you can create exactly the layout you want.”

New themes and styles also come to the suite of Office apps.

Word 2016 for Mac

Microsoft describes the new Word as having state of the art editing, reviewing, and sharing tools. The company also notes that the new design tab provides quick access to features such as layout, colours and fonts, and the new Format Object task pane gives you complete control over pictures, shapes, and effects.

There are also new collaboration features in Word and PowerPoint. Several people can work on the same document at the same time, thanks to the new Co-authoring feature. We don’t know what the limit is of authors, but it appears that at least 10 people can be involved in editing a document at the same time. When you are editing a document you can see the names of the other people who are in the document at the same time, and view their changes as they make them.

To keep the document in sync Microsoft is using a technology called cobalt syncing. Cobalt studies the changes that are being made and it two people change the same thing at the same time, it will alert users to the conflict.

Another collaboration themed addition is Threaded Comments, which is a little like website comments, letting users add comments that can be viewed by the editors of a document.

There is also a new document navigation pane that makes it easier to navigate through a document. Plus a new Style pane so it’s simple to change the styles being used in the document.

Check out these Word for Mac 2016 tips

Read our Word for Mac 2016 review

Excel 2016 for Mac

Excel will now support the majority of the Windows version’s keyboard shortcuts in addition to Mac keyboard commands. That basically means that ctrl-c will copy and ctrl-v will paste, as well a cmd-v and cmd-c.

Excel will also offer more advanced analysis tools – the new Analysis ToolPak – which will offer advanced statistical functions, including moving averages and exponential smoothing slicers for pivot tables, as well as auto-complete features for inserting functions and filling in cell data.

Read our Excel for Mac 2016 review and our Excel for Mac tips

PowerPoint 2016 for Mac

PowerPoint also gets the collaboration and Threaded Comments features. In addition it gains a redesigned Presenter View that allows users to easily switch a presentation from one display to another. Microsoft says this Presenter View will become the “mission control for your presentation - displaying the current slide, the next slide, notes and a timer on your Mac, while projecting only the presentation to your audience on the big screen”.

It also offers a customizable presenter window where users can view notes, the next slide, and where they are in the current sequence of slides.

There are also new slide transitions and an improved animation task pane that Microsoft says will help you build your presentation faster.

Check out these PowerPoint for Mac 2016 tips

Read our PowerPoint for Mac review

OneNote 2016 for Mac

OneNote is Microsoft’s ‘digital notebook’ and it is available for free on the App Store. It appears that there is little new in the preview version, although OneNote can now provide optical character recognition (OCR) for documents added to the cloud.

Outlook 2016 for Mac

The new version of Outlook for Mac has been available since last autumn, but only to those with an Office 365 subscription.

When that app launched Microsoft said it offered: “Better performance and reliability as a result of a new threading model and database improvements; a new modern user interface with improved scrolling and agility when switching between Ribbon tabs; online archive support for searching Exchange (online or on-premises) archived mail; Master Category List support and enhancements delivering access to category lists (name and colour) and sync between Mac, Windows and OWA clients; Office 365 push email support for real-time email delivery; and faster first-run and email download experience with improved Exchange Web Services syncing.”

Now it gains an improved conversation view that organizes the inbox around threaded conversations, and a new message preview that gives you the first sentence of an email just below the subject line.

Other new features include a side-by-side calendar view that lets you look at two different calendars together. You can even drop one calendar on top of the other so you can see if there are overlapping events. You can also view weather in the calendar.

There is also support for an Online Archive,

There do appear to be some issues with Gmail or iCloud accounts to this version of Outlook.

Read our Outlook for Mac 2016 review

Office 2016 code changes

Microsoft has made some changes on the development side. The new apps are fully sandboxed and are written in Cocoa rather than Carbon.

How long does Microsoft usually take to update Office for Mac?

As you can see from the list below, as a rule new versions happen about every three years, and usually the Mac version of Office comes out some time after the PC version. The extra time - often as much as a year - gives Microsoft's Mac development team time to produce a Mac version of the software suite, rather than just port the Windows version.

  •                         1995 – Office 95 for Windows
  •                         1997 – Office 97 for Windows
  •                         1998 - Office 98 for Mac
  •                         2000 – Office 2000 for Windows
  •                         Late 2000 - Office 2001 for Mac
  •                         2001 - Office X - the first Mac OS X edition
  •                         2002 – Office XP for Windows
  •                         2003 – Office 2003 for Windows
  •                         2004 - Office 2004 for Mac
  •                         2007 – Office 2007 for Windows
  •                         2008 - Office 2008 for Mac
  •                         2010 – Office 2010 for Windows
  •                         2010 - Office 2011 for Mac
  •                         2013 – Office 2013 for Windows
  •                         2015 – Office 2016 for Mac
  •                         2015 – Office 2016 for Windows

Office for Mac 2011 launched in October 2010, almost five years before Office for Mac 2016 arrived. The wait was exacerbated because Office 2013 for Windows launched in January 2013 but nothing arrived for the Mac.

By comparison, Office 2010 for Windows launched in June 2010 and Office for Mac 2011 launched just 4 months later in October 2010.

This is the longest period of time to have passed between Office for Mac updates, the previous record being 1,088 days, while the longest length of time passing between a Windows and a Mac version update to date has been 188 days.

To find out more about the next version of Microsoft Office, including details of the Windows version turn to the second page.